PavCo Multimedia Synergistics Weblog

February 27, 2008

The Moment of Truth

Filed under: Entertainment,TV — CPav @ 10:56 pm
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Fox’s new television show The Moment of Truth has been a mixed bag to date, but the episode that aired this past Monday was an amazing bit of television, a veritable trainwreck, but an intriguing one.

For those who haven’t been following it, Moment takes a contestant and asks them more than 50 questions of varying intensity and intrusiveness while they’re hooked up to a polygraph machine. The producers then cull the questions and ask the contestant 21 of them in front of a studio audience, and their friends and family members. If the contestant tells the truth in front of the live audience (based on the results of the polygraph session), they continue on, winning increasing amounts of money as they reach certain numbers of correct answers, with an ultimate prize of $500,000 for 21 correct answers.

The program implicitly asks how much a person is willing to humiliate himself on national television, and where is the line, when saving oneself from the humiliation outweighs the potential winnings.  Of course, other shows have asked similar questions, although not in quite so intimate a way; an additional element that Moment adds is the fact that the contestant doesn’t know what the results of the polygraph test were, so they could answer a question in the game the same way they answered it in the screening, and still be out the money, if the polygraph said they were lying. It’s an interesting show, and while some of the contestants and/or questions have been fairly dull (“Have you ever called in sick when you really weren’t?”), some of them have been more interesting (“Have you ever checked out another guy in the locker room”, asked to a former pro football player).

But all of that paled before this past Monday night, in an episode which I’m surprised they didn’t save for their season finale. (The full episode can be viewed on Fox On Demand.) The host, Mark Walberg (not to be confused with Mark Wahlberg) came on a couple of times to warn the viewers that the episode crossed certain lines, and that had he been allowed to make the decision, they would not be airing it. But air it they did.

The contestant was Lauren Cleri, an attractive blonde who took the stage with her parents, siblings, and husband Frank looking on. The questions started painting a less than attractive portrait of Cleri almost right from the beginning, when she admitted to having been fired from a job for stealing, that she’d rather give food to a dog than a homeless person, and that she’d kept secrets about her father from her mother. And then things got bad.

Evidently, Mrs. Cleri has feigned sleep or sickness to avoid sex with her husband. Okay, that seems to be fairly common. Less common, however, but still not unheard of, is taking off her wedding ring during a night out with friends, or marital infidelity. And then things got really bad.

Lauren admitted to being in love with a former boyfriend on her wedding day. Evidently that boyfriend was a guy named Frank (yes, he and the husband had the same name), because he came out to ask the next question: if Frank (the boyfriend) would take her back, would she leave Frank (the husband) for him? At that point, Lauren’s sister pressed a sort of panic button on the stage, which can be used only once by a family member or friend who doesn’t want the contestant to answer a question. The question (per the rules) was replaced by another question which the contestant must answer, which in this case sounded suspiciously similar to the unanswered one: Did Lauren think that Frank (the boyfriend) is the man she really should be married to.

Through all of this, Lauren’s answers were incredibly, searingly honest. Sex outside of marriage? Yep. Secrets about Dad that Mom doesn’t know? Sure. In love with a boyfriend on your wedding day, and still thinkin’ he’s the guy for you? You betcha.

Lauren Cleri left the show with no money, and, presumably, no husband as well (the New York Post reports that Lauren and Frank Cleri are now separated). The question that caught her up?

“Do you think you’re a good person?”

Lauren said yes. The polygraph said no. And I’m thinking the viewing audience largely agreed.

Note: I relied on this article to refresh my memory on some details of the episode, and got the New York Post reference from it.

The 300 Project: 18/41

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Ralph Nader

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 10:01 pm
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Last Sunday, consumer advocate Ralph Nader announced his latest run for the presidency. I have all sorts of problems with this, not the least of which is that Nader fully acknowledges that he has no hope of winning.

Nader and his supporters (all 10 of them) will tell you that the mere fact that his name is in the mix (to the limited extent that it is) will help his views and concerns get a broader airing. I guess there’s some truth to that, but why not take the money and buy an infomercial, like the guy who’s telling you all the truths that “they” don’t want you to know? Based on the fact that people keep making those things (and that I’ve got a Thunderstick hand mixer in my cabinet), it’s obvious someone is watching them.

And getting ideas out there isn’t necessarily enough any more. We all saw the results of last year’s Congressional elections, with the historic installation of Nancy Pelosi as the first female Speaker of the House, and the Democrats’ aggressive “hundred days” plan, then…not so much. They found that there’s much more to governing than having a simple majority, and that even the best ideas (breaking the link between lobbyists and politicians, allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare, lower interest rates for student loans) won’t go anywhere if the guy with the veto power digs in his cowboy boots and refuses to sign, or adds a historic number of signing statements which basically say “I’m making this a law, but I reserve the right to ignore it.”

Fortunately, I don’t think that Nader’s presence in the race will bring about a repeat of the 2000 elections, when the votes that Nader garnered in Florida (most of which would probably have gone to Al Gore) proved enough of a margin to throw the state to George Bush. This time, as much as John McCain is attempting to pander to the Conservative side of the Republican party, with the candidates from both sides being viewed as more-or-less moderate, it’s arguable that Nader would be drawing as many votes away from McCain as from Obama or Clinton.

In the end, the most damage that a Nader candidacy will do will be to Nader himself. More and more of the public don’t know about the good things he did as a consumer advocate. They know him only as the guy who keeps running for President. In 2000, he was a spoiler. In 2004, he was a joke. This year, he’s little more than an afterthought.

The 300 Project: 17/40

February 22, 2008

Live From New York (or Chicago)

Filed under: Entertainment,TV — CPav @ 1:05 am
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The Chicago Tribune is currently running a bracket-style tournament to determine the best Saturday Night Live castmember ever. I love the original cast, but if anyone other than Phil Hartman wins, it’ll be a travesty.

You can cast your vote at http://redeye.chicagotribune.com/red-snltourney,0,6049603.special.

(Thanks to Whitney Matheson at Pop Candy for the tip)

Incidentally, SNL returns this weekend with the first of four consecutive new episodes, the first ever such run in the show’s 33-year run. Tina Fey, former head writer and Weekend Update host, returns this week, with Juno‘s Ellen Page slated for next.

The 300 Project: 16/39

Indy Returns

The older I get, the less patience I have for watching the same thing over and over. That goes for tv shows with repetitive plots, and it goes for watching the same movie repeatedly. We tease my wife constantly about the fact that there are five or six “chick flicks” that she watches just about every time they’re on.

When I was younger, I had no problem with repeated viewings. One of my favorites was Raiders of the Lost Ark. I think I saw it 13 times or so, and this in the days before VCRs. (Yes, Virginia, there was a time before video tape) I got to the point where I could (and often did) recite the dialogue under my breath along with the actors. (Interestingly, I haven’t seen the movie in probably 20 years, don’t recall ever watching it on videotape, and don’t own a copy of any of the trilogy.)

So I was not a dispassionate viewer when the trailer for the new Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, was released on the internet. And let me say, it brought tears to my eyes. It started with images from the original three movies, and even did a nod to the beginning of Raiders, when you don’t see Indy’s face for the first few minutes. It looks really spectacular, and if, as rumored, this movie is intended to transition the lead role from Harrison Ford to Shia LaBeouf, looks like it could serve as the start of something really good. The film also features the return of Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood.

If you haven’t seen the trailer, you can check it out at Yahoo Movies.

The 300 Project: 15/38

Oscar Night

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies — CPav @ 12:35 am
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Continuing on the Oscars theme, as many of you know, Sunday is the holiest day of the year here at PavCo. We’ll be sitting around eating finger food and critiquing the red carpet fashions long before the ceremony actually starts. A number of online sites will be liveblogging the ceremony. I’m planning on spending time over at Pop Candy, Whitney Matheson’s USA Today blog that I’ve mentioned here a number of times before. You can join us too, at http://blogs.usatoday.com/popcandy/2008/02/wanna-be-my-dat.html. And no, I didn’t apply to be a featured reader; I snoozed too long and applications were already closed.

The 300 project: 14/37

Best Picture Marathon

This is the first of a number of posts of things that I’ve either just found out or have been meaning to post for a while. Evidently, meaning to post something isn’t the same as actually posting it. Who knew?

Anyway, this Saturday, February 23, starting at 11 a.m., AMC Theaters are presenting their second annual Best Picture Marathon. $30 gets you a collectible pass which gets you in to see all 5 Best Picture nominees and a large popcorn, which can be refilled throughout the day. The nominees, in the order that they’ll be shown, are Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood, Atonement, Juno, and No Country for Old Men. The pass let you come and go throughout the day, so if you’ve seen (for example) Atonement but no the rest, you can leave for that couple hours and come back. It’s quite a deal.

The boys and I will be at the Chesterfield Mall theater. For more information (actually, not much more information), showtimes, and a theater near you, check out http://www.amctheatres.com/promos/showcase/.

The 300 Project: 13/36

February 15, 2008

McCain Opposed What????

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 7:37 am
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Something that’s been bugging me since Super Tuesday, but which got lost in my hectic week last week:

The morning of the primary, I saw a television ad which nearly made my head spin. So much so that, before I blogged on it, I had to go out on the internet, find it, and watch it again, to make sure that I’d heard what I thought I heard. (I’m usually pretty good once I get going in the morning, as long as I’ve gotten enough sleep the night before. Which is rare.)

Take a look at the “Never Surrender” ad at http://www.johnmccain.com/tvads/. Go ahead. We’ll wait.

Done? Did you hear it? The second statement in the ad. “One man opposed a flawed strategy in Iraq.” WTF????

Is it me, or does this make it sound like McCain opposed the Iraq war? Don’t parse the sentence. I know this blog doesn’t always show it, but I’m pretty good with…y’know….words. And what the words here are saying is “John McCain didn’t support the way the war in Iraq was being waged.”

But that’s not what John and Jane Q Public will hear. And that’s not what they’ll take with them to the polls. What they’ll hear, and what they’ll base their votes on, is “John McCain…opposed…Iraq”.

Think I’m wrong? That I’m not giving John and Jane enough credit? CNN doesn’t: “McCain last year bucked public opinion with his full-throated support of President Bush’s commitment of nearly 30,000 additional troops to Iraq at a time when a solid majority of Americans had turned against the 4-year-old war….But among the 34 percent who said they disapproved of the war, McCain had a wide advantage over the GOP field — even over Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the sole advocate of a U.S. withdrawal in the Republican field.” (full story)

Look, I’m not saying that this is wrong. Wait, hold on, yes I am. I think this type of deliberate doublespeak is dangerous, and leads people to vote for candidates based on false assumptions. It’s like saying Mayoral Candidate X is going to raise taxes if he gets elected, without saying that if Mayoral Candidate Y gets elected and doesn’t raise taxes, he’s going to have to cut services. Not that that’s happened in my experience or anything.

On the other hand, as a strategy, it’s fairly brilliant. Because the people who do parse the sentence can come back and say “Well, he ain’t lyin’.” Because what McCain actually wanted was the troop surge, but much, much earlier. So while the statement that he opposed the way the war was being fought is true, the inference that he opposed the war is not.

Heck, that’s the kind of thing I might write, if I wrote that kind of stuff.

On a related note:

Available for hire: Writer with political experience. Contact owner of this blog for more information.

The 300 Project: 12/35

Religion

Filed under: General — CPav @ 7:08 am

No, I’m not going to get into a discussion of religion.

While researching a quote for a previous post, I came upon a site that features commonly misquoted phrases (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/List_of_misquotations). One that lept out at me was the common Marx quote (Karl, not Groucho), “Religion is the opiate of the masses”.

Evidently what Marx actually wrote was more involved and, in my opinion, a much neater turn of phrase:

” Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

While I like the turn of phrase, a more full analysis of the quote can be found here.

The 300 Project: 11/34

A Woman’s Place…

Filed under: Sports — CPav @ 12:12 am
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…is evidently not on the basketball court.

A religious academy in Kansas (a.k.a. the Land that the 20th Century Forgot) refused to allow a woman to referee a boys’ basketball game because, evidently, the Society of St. Pius X, which operates the school, follows older Roman Catholic laws, which say that a woman cannot be in a position of authority over boys. The leader of the sect was excommunicated from the Catholic Church back in the 80s.

full article

The 300 Project: 10/33

And It Goes On…

Filed under: General — CPav @ 12:04 am
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Yep, Kirkwood was an isolated event.

A gunman shot down five people, then killed himself at Northern Illinois University today.

And shots were fired outside a St. Louis county high school today.

Maybe it’s just something we have to get used to in the world today.

With neighbors like this, who needs Homeland Security?

The 300 Project: 9/32

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